‘Xi leads anti-virus war toward victory’ and visits Wuhan

Domestic News

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Xi in Wuhan.

The top story on all domestic news media is the visit to Wuhan of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, a sign that the government believes that the epidemic is under control in China. While Xinhua News Agency’s Chinese story quotes Xi as saying the fight against the virus has achieved “important results” (重要成果 zhòngyào chéngguǒ), the English version is more confident: It’s headlined: “‘Turning the tide’ — Xi leads anti-virus war toward victory.”

A resident of the Hongshan District of Wuhan sent our managing editor a short video of Xi Jinping visiting a residential compound to what appear to be shouts of encouragement. Apparently, security was “overwhelming” in the buildings, especially on all the higher floors.

“‘He has to go,’ Róng Jiàn 荣剑, a writer about politics in Beijing, said of the visit, noting that Mr. Xi has said he was personally directing the government’s response,” reports the New York Times (porous paywall). “‘If he does not go, what he calls personal command and personal leadership is of no practical significance.’”

Meanwhile, Zhōng Nánshān 钟南山, the epidemiologist who has spearheaded China’s effort against COVID-19, recently led a Communist Party oath-taking ceremony, and seems to be keeping to the Party propaganda line, led a study that has concluded that “China’s controversial quarantine measures limited the size of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak and should be kept in place until late April,” per Caixin.

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Other COVID-19 news:

Food prices are soaring in China, as prices for industrial wholesale goods are falling, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). These “present Chinese policy makers with a worsening dilemma as the coronavirus continues to freeze economic activity in China and around the world.”

“Hubei Province said on Tuesday it will implement a ‘health code’ mobile phone-based monitoring system to start allowing people to travel within the province, as it tries to resume normal activities after the coronavirus outbreak,” reports Reuters. Zhejiang Province already has a similar system in place, and some say Shanghai may adopt it in the near future.

Further evidence of cover-ups in Wuhan in the early days of the epidemic continues to emerge. “The hospital where coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang worked and died has been hit harder than any other by Covid-19 due in part to throttling of information by officials,” a Caixin investigation has found (porous paywall). The best summary of the mistakes made in Wuhan in one article is this Wall Street Journal piece: How it all started: China’s early coronavirus missteps (paywall).

—Jeremy Goldkorn